India Tour of England: In Virat Kohli & Co’s long four-month tour of England that will include the ICC World Test Championship Final (ICC WTC Final) against New Zealand and five-match Test series against England, Indian batters have an uphill task in adjusting to the seam-friendly conditions. The swinging Dukes balls have troubled the Indian batters including Virat Kohli often and barring a few none has been successful. Former selector and batsman Dilip Vengsarkar has a big advice to the batters, “don’t go for big drives”.
Dilip Vengsarkar was one of the architects of India’s 2-0 Test series win in England in 1986 said that it was important for batsmen to stay side-on and push the balls instead of going for big drives.
“We were lucky those days that we had quite a few side games against the counties. So we could get acclimatised to the conditions, the moving ball. The thing is that once you get acclimatised, the important factor is that, to counter the extra movement, especially off the wicket, it’s important to stay side-on (batting stance),” Dilip Vengsarkar told Khaleej Times.
“And don’t go for big drives to start with because the ball moves quite a bit and if you go for big drive when you see a half volley, you are likely to end up in slips or anywhere. So just push the ball rather than going for the big drives,” he added.
India Tour of England: In India’s last tour of England, India lost the series 1-4 with only Virat Kohli managing to tame the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad as the rest struggled. It was a redemption of sorts as the current India captain failed in his previous tour of England, scoring only 134 runs in the series in 2014. What worked for him was a change in batting technique to master the English conditions that can vary the entire day in a Test match.
Dilip Vengsarkar, who scored 960 runs including four centuries in England, said the conditions never let a batter set on a wicket for long.
“In England sometimes you get overcast conditions and the ball starts moving, then suddenly you get sunshine and it becomes a good batting wicket. You get different seasons in one day in England. So, you, as a batsman, are never settled. In India, once you are set and score 30 plus runs, you can score a big innings. But that doesn’t happen in England. You are never set as such, you know. The ball moves around quite a bit and you have to be careful,” Dilip Vengsarkar explained.
India Tour of England: Need for more practice matches
To adjust to such conditions what India need is more practice games. But ahead of the ICC WTC Final against New Zealand, even a practice session is a big ask considering quarantine protocols. Hence, against Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Kyle Jamieson, Indian batsmen could struggle. Hanuma Vihari’s unsuccessful county stint is also something to talk about as he managed only one half-century during his outing.
But before the five-match Test series against England, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane will have 42 days to prepare. While India will play a lot of intra-squad matches, it will be important for the BCCI to organize practice matches against local sides for Team India to acclimatize to the conditions.
“It’s important to have matches. You have practice sessions, but the important thing is to have matches and spend time in the middle, not just for the batsmen, but for the fast bowlers and spinners as well. By spending time in the middle, they know what length to hit. That has been a problem for the past 10 years now. Look, when you go to Australia, England, and New Zealand, the conditions are so different. You need practice matches to get acclimatised to the conditions,” Dilip Vengsarkar said.